You may have noticed different aspects of your health changing during the pandemic—and you're not alone! Dr. Diana Bitner, MD, Chief Medical Officer and Co-founder, true. Women's Health, recently spoke with West Michigan Woman and discussed overall health and weight gain during the pandemic and how there's more to it than what meets the eye.
"Back in the day, when people would tell me 'I've gained 30 pounds and I don't know how it happened,' I would kind of roll my eyes and think 'come on, you've got to know how that happened,' but now I understand it's really much more than that," said Dr. Bitner. "The first five to 10 pounds kind of makes sense. Maybe there was an extra drink every night. Maybe there was extra sugar. It's not doing as much activity as you normally would because the gyms are closed. But the extra pounds that come afterwards don't always make sense."
Sleep deprivation, Dr. Bitner explains, is one of the not-so-obvious reasons for gaining weight.
"Sleep deprivation makes our bodies crave sugar, and when we eat sugar when we're sleep deprived, it goes straight to belly fat," said Dr. Bitner, offering advice for those who find themselves getting stressed out while waking up throughout the night. "When you wake up in the middle night, say 'I got this' and right away break the cycle. Get out of bed, even if you don't feel like it, go to the bathroom, drink some water and have the practice of thinking about three things you're so grateful for. Gratitude calms the mind. Feel yourself settle and go back to bed."
The Symptom Circle, invented by Dr. Bitner, offers insight into triggers for some common symptoms experienced by women and offers common ways these symptoms could be improved—from menstrual bleeding, decreased libido and vaginal dryness, to mood swings, body complaints and hot flashes/night sweats.
"Even women who have never had depression or anxiety before in their life can often get those symptoms as they go through hormonal changes," she said. "For someone in menopause, it can be a reason to even consider what hormone medication looks like for them and if it would be safe for them."
Dr. Bitner stresses change with your health starts with a vision and having a plan. She suggests looking into her SEEDS (Seven Essential Elements for Daily Success) ebook for guidance and also offered for top five tips for stopping weight gain:
1. No carbs after 4 p.m.
2. Prioritize sleep.
3. Know where you are in mid-life/menopause.
4. Add strength training to your routine.
5. Add breathing/yoga/gratitude practices.
To watch the conversation in its entirety, click here.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor of West Michigan Woman.